This is a look at the first-round order for the 2021 NFL Draft heading into Week 9 of the NFL season, along with the top three needs for each team. The order is determined by record, using strength of schedule as the first tiebreaker (click here to see a full list of the draft-order tiebreakers). Keep in mind -- teams 19-32 would make the playoffs if the season ended today and are marked as PL (short for playoffs) in the order below. The draft order for playoff teams is determined by the results of postseason play.
Biggest needs: Edge rusher, CB, OT
This week's game: at Washington Football Team
We’re not adjusting the needs yet, but after watching another near-upset dashed by Daniel Jones' miscues, it's getting awfully hard to imagine the Giants passing on a QB if they end up holding a position this high in the draft order.
Biggest needs: QB, CB, OT
This week's game: vs. Texans
Well, this doesn't seem fair. Gardner Minshew will miss next week's tussle with the 1-6 Texans -- aka the Jaguars' best chance to win another game this season -- and a loss could ultimately ensure that Jacksonville will be drafting Minshew's replacement this spring. Unless Luton Lunacy is the new Minshew Mania.
PICK ACQUIRED FROM THE HOUSTON TEXANS
Texans' record: 1-6 (.640)
This week's Texans game: at Jaguars
See Pick No. 16 for analysis of the Dolphins' needs and the bottom of this article for analysis of the Texans' needs.
Biggest needs: Edge rusher, S, CB
This week's game: vs. Broncos
The Falcons' defense is playing better, which means Matt Ryan has a legitimate shot to quiet rumblings about replacing him with one of the top QBs in the draft. All he has to do is move Atlanta out of the range to land one of them, but the focus next year should be on upgrading the D -- which still ranks 28th in the league -- anyway.
Biggest needs: CB, DT, S
This week's game: vs. Steelers
There are needs at every level of the 32nd-ranked scoring defense, but DT replaces edge rusher on the list this week. The interior is shaping up to be the bigger draft priority with NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reporting the Cowboys' sack leader, edge rusher Aldon Smith -- playing on a one-year deal -- is likely to receive an extension from the team.
Biggest needs: QB, WR, OL
This week's game: vs. Giants
Who'll be blocking for whoever is playing quarterback for the WFT next season? There's still a question mark at left tackle following Trent Williams' departure, while starting center Chase Roullier and three-time Pro Bowl guard Brandon Scherff are due to hit the market in 2021.
Biggest needs: OL, DT, QB
This week's game: vs. Lions
It's a good day for the Vikings when they don't have to rely on Kirk Cousins, who attempted just 14 passes in Dalvin Cook's romp over the Packers. The problem is good defenses know Minnesota is 0-5 since the start of last season when Cousins has more than 35 attempts.
Biggest needs: OL, CB, WR
This week's game: at Chiefs
In the midst of a three-game losing streak, with games against the Chiefs and Bucs up next, the feel-good vibes around the Panthers' surprising start are fading. The most troubling aspect of Carolina's latest loss was the offensive line's struggle to protect Teddy Bridgewater from a Falcons pass rush that was missing its top edge rusher (Takk McKinley).
Biggest needs: WR, DL, LB
This week's game: at Vikings
Kenny Golladay is injured again, taking a big bite out of the Lions' offense. And it will be interesting to see what the offseason brings for the free-agent-to-be, who's coming off consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. Even if Detroit keeps him in the fold, there figures to be a void or two to fill at the position with Marvin Jones and Danny Amendola also in walk years.
Biggest needs: OT, CB, S
This week's game: at Falcons
Justin Simmons, a second-team All-Pro pick last season, is the No. 2 safety in the NFL this season, according to PFF, and has played just about every defensive snap for the Broncos since 2018. Will they get a long-term deal done with their franchise-tag recipient this offseason or potentially have a completely different starting duo at the position in 2022, when Kareem Jackson is scheduled to reach free agency?
Biggest needs: OL, CB, edge rusher
This week's game: vs. Packers
After a crushing loss that cost the Niners both Jimmy Garoppolo and George Kittle, San Francisco could be slipping into the top 10 of the draft order over the next month with four teams that would make the playoffs if the season ended today up next on the schedule.
Biggest needs: WR, ILB, interior OL
This week's game: at Cardinals
Tua Time started with a victory on a rough day for the offense. Tagovailoa threw for just 93 yards (his leading receiver was running back Myles Gaskin; three catches for 16 yards) and the offensive line couldn't get much of a push against Aaron Donald and Co. Keep an eye on whether the rookie QB can establish some chemistry with a receiving corps that still appears to be missing a piece.
Biggest needs: DT, OL, S
This week's game: at Chargers
The Raiders shut the Browns down on Sunday, and they did it without much of a pass rush. Baker Mayfield was pressured on a season-low 12 percent of his dropbacks, and Vegas has a grand total of zero sacks in its last two games. We view the interior D-line as the bigger area of need, but Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock might have to add reinforcements off the edge, too.
Biggest needs: QB, OG, S
This week's game: at Titans
The Bears have failed to score more than 23 points in each of Nick Foles' five starts -- he's thrown a pick in six straight games (longest active streak) -- and the issues on the interior of the offensive line could be exposed like never before with a date against the Titans' Jeffery Simmons up next.
Biggest needs: OG, LB, CB
This week's game: On bye
Philly has tried to get by at linebacker by going cheap (only the 49ers spend less at the position, per Over The Cap) for the past few seasons, but 2021 could be the year to change that with a couple of veterans at the position coming off the books.
PICK ACQUIRED FROM THE LOS ANGELES RAMS
Rams' record: 5-3 (.444)
This week's Rams game: On bye
See Pick No. 3 for analysis of the Jaguars' needs and the bottom of this article for analysis of the Rams' needs.
Biggest needs: LB, CB, edge rusher
This week's game: On bye
Cleveland hasn't spent a first-round pick on a defender the last two years, but that streak seems likely to end in 2021 with seven of the Browns' defensive starters from Sunday ticketed for free agency.
Biggest needs: CB, edge rusher, OT
This week's game: vs. Ravens
The Indy pass rush was ferocious against Detroit on Sunday, sacking Matthew Stafford five times. Edge rusher is on the needs list, though, because the Colts' top three edge rushers for most of this season -- Justin Houston, Denico Autry and Al-Quadin Muhammad -- have contracts that expire in 2021.
Biggest needs: CB, edge rusher, interior OL
This week's game: vs. Dolphins
The Cardinals could be shopping for a right guard this offseason with starter J.R. Sweezy (currently on injured reserve with an elbow injury) in the final year of his deal.
Biggest needs: WR, interior OL, CB
This week's game: at 49ers
Long thirsting for a playmaking complement to Davante Adams at receiver, it has to bring a smile to Packers fans' faces to hear their team has its eye on the Texans' Will Fuller ahead of Tuesday's trade deadline, per NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport.
Biggest needs: Edge rusher, TE, WR
This week's game: vs. Bears
The Titans have become, in consecutive weeks, the only team to fail to sack Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Burrow (who plays behind one of the league's worst offensive lines) in a game this season. The Jaguars are the only team with fewer sacks this season. Mike Vrabel has to find some juice for his pass rush, especially off the edge.
Biggest needs: Interior DL, OL, edge rusher
This week's game: at Colts
We're shifting interior OL to OL as a need following the contract extension (and injury, unfortunately) for Ronnie Stanley. Starting center Matt Skura's deal is up in the spring, and Orlando Brown, one of the best right tackles in the game, is only a year away from free agency. Are the Ravens going to pay both tackles big money?
Biggest needs: QB, S, DL
This week's game: at Buccaneers
No team is facing a more daunting cap situation than the Saints next season, per Over The Cap, so there are a lot of things to untangle here before we’ll get a clear picture of their draft needs. That said, there’s no more pressing matter than finding the player who’ll succeed Drew Brees, who continues to find a way to overcome his limitations at 41 years old.
Biggest needs: Edge rusher, DT, WR
This week's game: vs. Saints
Should we be replacing WR with RB? The potential loss of pending free agent Chris Godwin looms large, but the Bucs are averaging just 3.4 yards per carry in the last two games and are about to face a defense that hasn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher for 45 straight games (longest active streak).
PICK ACQUIRED FROM THE SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
Seahawks' record: 6-1 (.404)
This week's Seahawks game: at Bills
See Pick No. 1 for analysis of the Jets' needs and the bottom of this article for analysis of the Seahawks' needs.
Biggest needs: Interior OL, WR, S
This week's game: vs. Panthers
The Chiefs utilize three safeties in their defense, and one of them (Daniel Sorensen, who is tied for the team lead in INTs and tied for second on the team in tackles) is in the final year of his contract. Plus, Tyrann Mathieu has only one year left on his deal.
TEAMS WITHOUT A FIRST-ROUND PICK
TRADED FIRST-ROUND PICK TO THE MIAMI DOLPHINS
Biggest needs: WR, CB, edge rusher
This week's game: at Jaguars
We know height's not everything at the receiver position, but there could be a screaming need for more of it in Houston this spring. Aside from rookie Isaiah Coulter -- a fifth-round pick who was recently activated from injured reserve -- the Texans don't have a wide receiver over 5-foot-11 under contract beyond this season.
TRADED FIRST-ROUND PICK TO THE JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
Biggest needs: OL, edge rusher, LB
This week's game: On bye
The Rams don't have a lot of draft capital (or cap space) to work with this offseason. Finding young, cheap help for the offensive line might be essential with starting center Austin Blythe headed for free agency in 2021, when Austin Corbett, Joe Noteboom and Brian Allen will be a year away from having their deals run out.
TRADED FIRST-ROUND PICK TO THE NEW YORK JETS
Biggest needs: OL, CB, edge rusher
This week's game: at Bills
The edge rusher situation is looking a little better after the acquisition of Carlos Dunlap, so corner moves up a rung on the needs list with starters Shaquill Griffin and Quinton Dunbar due to hit the market.